Anatomy of a Control: A Major Acquisition
But Johnson wants to make it clear that the bulk of the letter copy is about the product itself, including tons of benefit-intensive copy about a myriad of health conditions and concerns that are addressed by the newsletter. "The product takes the starring role in the letter, so we're not just generating customers who want information about weight loss and arthritis," he explains.
The second most significant change from the previous control was doubling the letter from four pages to eight (and currently testing nine). "I've found that in any self-help copy, long copy generally outpulls shorter copy. You can squeeze in more benefits, a technique I learned from Gene Schwartz," asserts Johnson, who also credits direct mail guru Schwartz for going with short paragraphs, each with a new benefit.
It wasn't a matter of stuffing as many words into the eight pages, though, as Johnson also urged Mayo Clinic to switch to 14-point type after a couple of years. "It's one of the most common mistakes I see in direct mail: The type is too small. If they don't read it, then it doesn't matter how good the copy is," says Johnson, who also oversaw the use of the "school rule," which like the larger point size, contributed to greater response. "Again, it makes it more readable. It's a good test for any market, not just seniors. It looks unique, more personal and less corporate," he contends.
Lastly, the reply card page is both unique and central to the package's success. "It performs the job of three: reply form, premium stuffer and BRE. It also works from a response point of view, for it puts it all in front of them at the time they're going to make that decision," states Johnson, who also pushed for a yellow reply envelope that stands out and raised response.